Terminal Station / Indiscretion of an American Wife (USA, 1953)

600full-indiscretion-of-an-american-wife--slash--terminal-station----criterion-collection-coverDirected by: Vittorio De Sica. The story behind this movie is pretty interesting in its own right, and perhaps more interesting than the movie itself. David O. Selznick, the legendary Hollywood producer most famous for Gone With the Wind, apparently went through a phase where he tried to cash in on the popularity of postwar Italian neorealism, of which De Sica was at the forefront. De Sica shot the original film, an adaptation of the novel Stazione Termini, named after the towering Fascist structure in Rome (where the film was set and shot), but producer Selznick didn’t like De Sica’s style—the frequent asides and intrusions by secondary and tertiary characters throughout the film—and re-cut the film without the director’s permission. The film eventually released—Indiscretion of An American Wife—apparently didn’t do very well in Hollywood or in Europe, was rejected by De Sica and star Montgomery Clift as a bastard film, and is regarded as one of the greatest acts of butchery in cinema. The Criterion set pictured above is a pretty interesting case for that reason, because it allows you to compare for yourself the original 89-minute cut with the hour-long theatrical version released to the world. It’s my first time seeing the lovely Jennifer Jones, and she does a great job carrying what is essentially a woman’s film—or at any rate, a rare example (from the 1950’s especially) of a film centered around a woman’s emotional state, where the man (not Clift’s best role, but a pretty respectable performance) is only there to provide emotional conflict with the female protagonist. This is definitely one of the most interesting and unique onscreen romances I’ve seen, perhaps because it’s not common, even in today’s Hollywood, to see a romance that cannot and does not survive—and not because of something as sensational and calamitous as a war or an asteroid or something. If you’re into small films, or films about doomed love, check this out (but save yourself the time and just go for De Sica’s original Terminal Station).

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2 responses to “Terminal Station / Indiscretion of an American Wife (USA, 1953)

  1. Pingback: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (USA, 1976/1978) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: La Dolce Vita (Italy/France, 1960) | Offhand Reviews·

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